I like to cook.
I'm not exactly sure when I discovered my love for the culinary arts. Ever since I can remember, I have always enjoyed the textures, the smells, the tastes, and the experiences that surround the preparation and consumption of food. In fact, my earliest memories consist of watching my father prepare the dough for French bread and reveling in the smell of the morning pot of coffee. I remember becoming entranced watching my grandmother knead the dough for biscuits, punching uniform holes into the mass with the mouth of a glass, waiting anxiously while the warm smell of flour and butter wafted throughout the house, and devouring the puffy clouds with a sizzling county sausage tucked inside it.
My fascination with food has not abated since childhood; if anything, my wonder for the kitchen has grown tenfold. Now, I am able to shop for and transform ingredients independently. I can go in the kitchen, whip out my chef's knife, light the stove, and turn an array of produce and pantry items into a lip-smacking, soul-satisfying meal. And my mind for the kitchen doesn't turn off when I leave it; I am constantly riffling through cookbooks, recipe surfing through cooking blogs, scratching recipes in the margins of my class notes and trying to put together flavors and menus in my head. For whatever reason, I just can't get enough of the culinary experience.
As I'm in my senior year of college, I am quickly sailing past the expected "senioritis" stage and cruising toward the panic mode of "What-am-I-going-to-do-for-the-rest-of-my-life?!?!??" I have always excelled in academia; my nose has been in a book as long as it has been sniffing around in the kitchen. Growing up, my resolve concretely told me that excelling at school was the avenue to "get me places," and cooking was something that was supposed to stay a hobby. However, the more I've been thinking about it, the more I've realized that I don't really have a strong passion for...anything academic. Sure, I like to read, write, and philosophize, but those are not activities I picture doing when I get up in the morning; if anything, those are just hindrances to the time I could spend looking at recipes, grocery shopping, and cooking for others. When I picture myself when I'm older, two images appear in my head: in one, I am arrayed in a business suit, sitting at a desk, and doing...only the Lord knows what. I don't look particularly happy, and I don't smile that often; I'm just busily doing what I trained to do. In the other vision, I am over a stove, donning an apron, with an iron skillet in my hand. And there's a smile on my face while a few look on. And in this vision, I am completely happy and at peace.
Honestly, all I've ever wanted to do in my career is help people. Throughout my life, I have encountered numerous individuals who gave their time, abilities, and confidence to give me opportunities to excel. Spiritually, I believe that it is my responsibility as a human being to look out for my fellow earth dwellers in the best way that I can. And truthfully, all humans really need to survive are food, water, shelter, and love. If I can provide those basic things for others, then I can help lives flourish and nourish countless others. What would be the fastest avenue toward this objective?
I don't want to retreat into the abstract confines of text and theory for the rest of my life; I want to work with my hands and see the fruition of my work. I don't want to waste away in graduate school drowning in jargon and someone else's ideas. I want to be able to hand someone a warm bowl of soup on a chilly day, or teach someone with minimal resources how to easily prepare a healthy meal for their family. I don't want to spend the rest of my life studying; I want to spend the rest of my life doing.
And that's what I'm going to do.